Sunday, August 27, 2017

New Child Support Guidelines in Massachusetts 2017

New Child Support Guidelines in MA 2017
New Child Support Guidelines take effect on September 15, 2017. If you are a paying parent, contact Attorney Kathleen A. Delaney to determine whether you are entitled to a modification of your support order.

Shared Physical Custody Support Orders

While shared physical custody is appropriate in most circumstances, some parents who were ordered to pay child support would push for a shared custody arrangement for the sole purpose of decreasing child support rather than the desire to be a fully-engaged parent. The 2017 Guidelines eliminate the less than 33% and less than 50% calculations.

Health- and Childcare Expenses

The rising costs of health- and childcare expenses can be detrimental to any household, but more so to divorced couples. The 2017 Guidelines allow for an appropriate adjustment for these expenses in the form of a presumptive cap of 15% of the total order for medical insurance and child care deductions.

Weekly Minimum Amount Increase

Under the old Guidelines, the minimum order was based on a 40-hour work week at minimum wage ($440) which resulted in an order of $18.46 per week. The 2017 Guidelines raise the minimum amount of weekly support to $25.

Consideration of Children Ages 18-23

Support under the old Guidelines for children aged 18-23 who attend college was confusing. Some judges would emancipate those children and order the parent paying support to contribute to education expenses instead of both child support and education. Some judges reduced available income to the paying parent if they were paying education expense. The 2017 Guidelines give judges discretion to reduce child support by up to 25% for children aged 18-23 who are in a full-time post-high school education program. And a presumptive cap on child support is imposed at 75% of the standard guidelines order.

Contribution to College Expenses

Finally! - guidance on this issue. Some judges make it clear that college is a luxury and parents should not be on the hook for their kids’ education expenses. Financially supporting two households after a divorce is costly enough notwithstanding college expenses for kids. The 2017 Guidelines do not require parents to contribute to education expenses, but if the parties agree to contribute to these expenses, they will not be ordered to contribute more than 50% of the annual cost of attendance at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst (currently approximately $30,000). Subject, of course, to deviation and a judge’s discretion.

By Delaney & Tourkantonis